Lighten up holiday meals with whole grains

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Courtesy of Family Features

Festive food can make healthy eating a challenge, but by substituting healthier options into your holiday recipes, it’s easy to ensure a nutritious holiday season.  
Packed with nutrients, whole grains include protein, fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants.
They also keep you feeling full, which means less temptation around those sweet treats.

Stuffed Cornish Hens with Maple Glaze
Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 53 minutes
Makes: Four servings, one serving equal to 1/2 Cornish hen with 3/4 cup stuffing
2 Cornish hens (1 pound each)
Fresh black pepper

Rice Mixture:
1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced

Maple Glaze:
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest

Remove and discard giblets from hens. Rinse hens well; pat dry with paper towels.
Remove skin with sharp knife; trim excess fat. Split hens in half lengthwise; set aside.
To make rice stuffing, heat medium saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic; saute until golden brown. Add rice, seasoning packet, and 2-1/4 cups water (omit butter or oil). Follow package instructions to cook rice.  
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray, then place four 1/2 cup mounds of rice in dish. Fit Cornish hen halves over top of rice and press down.
Roast hens at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. While hens are cooking, prepare glaze by stirring together all ingredients.
After hens have cooked for 20 minutes, remove from oven and brush with maple glaze.  
Continue to roast for an additional 15 minutes or until juices run clear, brushing once more with glaze.

—Courtesy of Family Features